Thursday, January 27, 2011

Genealogy Blogs Part 2: Readers Weigh in on Comments

Last week I asked my readers and fellow bloggers about the process of leaving comments on blogs. Boy, did I get a lot of feedback! Here are some of the themes from the comments on blog comments:

1. Bloggers adjusted their email contact access
I asked if and where bloggers put an email address on their blogs for reader contact. This question caused a lot of bloggers to go back and re-examine their points of contact. I'm of the opinion that email information should be on the front page of the blog/web site, because some readers may not know to where to click to get contact information. Several bloggers commented about possible spam coming from having an email address out there for all to see. That's the reason I don't give my primary email address on my blog. This Yahoo! address is secondary.

2. Blog readers don't like word verification.
The readers have spoken, people. They do not like it. Oh sure, they may put up with it in order to comment on a blog, but what about those who don't understand how it works? You risk alienating them, and you may never make that special contact with your Betty With All the Answers.

I'm sure there are a couple people out there that might want to change word verification and comments settings on their blogs, but don't know how and are afraid to ask. Am I right? I think so. Here's how you do it on Blogger. Go to your Dashboard, which is the jumping off point on Blogger. You'll see a bunch of tabs at the top. Click "Settings" then "Comments." You should be able to adjust your preferences:

Don't forget to save your settings when you're done making changes. If you don't like it, you can always go back to the way it was.

3. Several bloggers use comment moderation to control junk comments.
For those who don't maintain a blog, this means that after you leave a comment, it has to be manually approved by the blogger before the comment can be seen. It's done to filter out spam, but it also means readers can't see their comments or others until they are moderated. This can be kind of frustrating if a blogger only moderates comments every 24 hours or more. How will readers know what's being said?

My only comment on this practice is that Blogger has a pretty good spam filter now so I have bailed on comment moderation for the time being. I still get an email for each comment left on my blog, so I know who is saying what. However, 99% of the time, Blogger steers the spam into the right bucket.

I review my comments daily, so if a junk comment gets published, I can delete it and get back to business. Here's how you too can monitor your comments on Blogger:

If you see a suspect comment in your "Published" folder, simply delete it and get on down the road.

This discussion on comments has been eye-opening, hasn't it? I made some changes as well based on the dialog. For now I've turned off all comment moderation so my readers have the best experience possible. I've also changed the comment page itself by putting comments directly below the post, instead of a full separate page. Hopefully that makes it easier to see the post on which you're commenting.

Thank you to everyone who weighed in on the subject of blog comments. If you didn't get a chance, do go back and read all the feedback that was left on the original post.


  1. Thank you for this post and for bringing things to light some good changes you suggested, and thanks to those who did change something. I didn't leave a comment before because so many people did, and they said what I would have. So again, thank you.

  2. I still have comment moderation on, and will leave it on, just this week a really snarly (child porn and such) comment would have been posted on a memorial I wrote for a very dear man that died this week. I would have been furious and crushed if this comment had been automatically posted.

    I have not had word verification for some time and it is my opinion that I do not need it.

    I do try and so far have been successful, to have all comments posted within 12 hours, and that is with all this traveling and living on the desert with NO hookups for over a week now. It only takes a moment to review them in my email and approve them.

    But, don't be leaving child porn messages on my memorials. Can we spell T-A-C-K-Y?? Talk about poor taste and lack of class.

  3. Carol, yes that is unfortunate. I've found Blogger is pretty good about directing those types of comments straight to the spam folder, but for some moderation is necessary. Thanks for the comment!

  4. Regarding the concerns about getting spam because you make your email address readily available - I think it's a trade off and I find it worth it. When I set up my website 4 years ago, I put links to my email all over the place. After all, hearing from others researching the same lines was the main reason for the site in the first place. And yes I get a lot of spam but 99% of it goes in my spam filter so it's really not that much of a problem. I'm more than willing to put up with that for the rewards of the valid contacts. I've had 3 of those just this week. Last month someone solved a brick wall for me and this week I gained a sister I didn't know about for a 2nd great-grandmother. That's worth putting up with some spam to me. (BTW, I review the spam folder daily for the rare valid email that gets thrown in there.)

  5. Linda, you're right, it is a trade off and I think it is worth it as well. Sometimes as bloggers, we get so determined to fight spam that we lose focus on our readers and making it easy for them to contact us. Thank you for the comment!

  6. I turned the captcha off on my comments after your first post. Decided to see what happened. It didn't take long for a spam comment to get past the blogger spam filter. It wasn't an awful one such as Carol described but it makes me feel like I have to be even more careful to read the comment emails - at least 2 or 3 times a day now, whereas before, I didn't hesitate to check them once a day if I was busy.

    I also wonder how people feel about a contact tab on the side of a blog instead of an email address. Visitors to my blog seem to use it frequently (but then, of course, I don't know how many people would have used an email instead). I think the contact tab is a good alternative to publishing an email address. What do the rest of you think?

    Thanks for initiating this discussion, Amy.

  7. Nancy, I think a contact tab is fine if it's clearly marked on the page and not lost in text and graphics. Where would the contact tab go and what would it show? Would someone with limited technical ability understand where to retrieve your email address? I'm just thinking from the perspective of my Betty who is still figuring out this whole computer thing. Hopefully others chime in, too, because you've brought up a great point.

  8. Hi Amy. I have been fortunate that I really do not receive much spam. I find it ironic though that this past week I have had four spam messages that did not get caught by blogger. Timing or what? I just turned off my captcha but I am not certain I am ready to turn off the moderation yet. I think I will give it another week or two and see how it goes first. Also, I use to have a contact tab on the side of my blog and no one used it, but maybe no one wanted to contact me. I do believe it was a great, outstanding, easy to find way to be contacted however.